Engineers are a crucial part of the engine that makes us tick, and we proudly believe that Georgia-Pacific engineers are among the best in the industry. Whether they’re troubleshooting problems with operators on the floor or finding new ways to make GP products more efficiently, we couldn’t operate or innovate without their expertise.
That’s why we’re honoring engineers as part of National Engineers Week, a movement that aims to bring attention to engineers’ contributions to society and emphasize the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning. You can find engineers at our operations throughout the country, and we’re introducing you to just a few of them and their stories below.
Maria “Gaby” Gallardo, entry-level project engineer,
Port Hudson, La.:
Gaby already had another career altogether when she decided to become an engineer. She had received her first degree and was teaching math and science to K-12 students when she realized that her time on the other side of the desk was not yet over. With one goal in mind, Gaby continued teaching during the day while attending classes at night to obtain her second college degree, this time in industrial engineering. Along the way, she joined an organization called the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and it was through a SHPE career fair that she was introduced to Georgia-Pacific. She is currently a project engineer at our Port Hudson, La., mill and is pursuing a Master’s degree in engineering management.
Jay Bheda, senior process engineer, Naheola mill in Pennington, Ala.:
Jay spent 15 years focusing on polymers and resins as an engineer with INVISTA, a sister company of Georgia-Pacific known for brands such as LYCRA ® fiber, STAINMASTER® carpeting and more. Though new to our Naheola mill, Jay is excited to learn more about the papermaking process and to use his engineering skills in a new environment. No matter the product made or the setting he’s in, Jay believes that the basic principles of engineering – and the type of “hypothesis-testing” engineers often love – are unchanging, and that’s why he loves being an engineer.
Michael Mitchell, project engineer, Cedar Springs, Ga.:
One thing Michael notes about his career in engineering is how much he enjoys working with other engineers to reach a common goal and solve problems. He touches on the importance of having support from other professionals in the field, not only to enhance the technical skills required for certain positions but also in learning how to work with others, how to manage projects, and more. “One engineer in particular that has helped me grow in the past year is Ben Hamilton,” Michael says. He credits Ben, an experienced engineer at the mill, with helping him understand the paper-making process, how to manage contractors and how to successfully run projects.
April Treague, project engineer, iNNOVATION institute® in Neenah, Wis.:
April was among just 13 women to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering from her undergraduate program (the mechanical engineering class had over 200 students). For her, challenging the status quo has never been a problem. So it seems fitting that she’s now creating products that have never existed before through her work at the iNNOVATION institute®, a GP operation dedicated to testing and troubleshooting all kinds of potential new products and new ways of doing things. Above all, April enjoys being on the more “creative” side of engineering. “Driving new product development really appeals to me,” she says.
Myrton Thompson, plant engineer, Diboll, Texas:
Myrton has been in engineering for many years, and he’s held positions from millwright the mechanical superintendent to his current role as a plant engineer in Diboll, a position he was offered while working at our nearby lumber facility in Camden, Texas. To Myrton, one of the best parts of his job is getting to help bring a coworker’s vision to life. “As much as we all like to come up with new and more efficient ways to do things on our own, I get even more enjoyment out of bringing a coworker’s concept to life,” Myrton says. “It’s so fulfilling to have an operator come up with an idea, and for me to be able to support their idea by working through all the details to help them make their idea a reality.”
Mark DeLaHunt, engineering manager, Big Island, Va.:
If he could pick anything that he thinks would surprise others about engineering, Mark says it would be to squash the stereotypes. “There’s this Hollywood view that says engineers are introverted or not social, and I’ve just not found that to be true,” he says. As a community volunteer himself (seen in this photo with his daughter as they work together on a community project), Mark explains that plenty of the engineers he knows and works with are actively involved in the community – people who put themselves out there. “So many of the engineers I know and work with are scout leaders, coaches, mission trip participants and after-school program supporters."
Are you an engineer or do you know someone who is? Tell us more in the comments below (and be sure to wish the engineers in your life a happy National Engineers Week)!